2014 Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline is a unique pickup that employs car-like unibody construction in place of the rugged but unrefined body-on-frame setup that underpins its competitors. As a result, the Ridgeline provides a more comfortable ride and better handling than most pickups while still offering decent towing and hauling capabilities.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the aging Ridgeline gains a new range-topping Special Edition model that combines the look of the Ridgeline Sport with the content of the well-equipped RTL trim level.

Overview
Unlike most pickup trucks on the market, the Ridgeline comes only in a one-size-fits-all configuration with four doors, seating for five and a five-foot-long cargo bed. A unique feature of this cargo bed is a small covered trunk inside. The 8.5-cubic-inch space features drain plugs for cleaning out dirty loads, and can be accessed via the tailgate, which folds down like other pickups, but also swings to the side for easier access.

The versatile theme of the Ridgeline's exterior continues inside, where numerous cupholders, plentiful storage nooks and 60/40 split-folding rear seats make for a practical cabin. Simple instrumentation, user-friendly controls and comfortable seats make for a more carlike experience than most other pickups.

Feature content is something of a mixed bag: while a useful rearview camera is standard, the Ridgeline lacks Honda's latest infotainment architecture, and Bluetooth is only available on the range-topping trim level. These are reminders of the Ridgeline's advanced age - the pickup first debuted for the 2006 model year.

The most powerful six-cylinder engine in the segment when the Ridgeline hit the market, the 3.5-liter V6 has since been bested in terms of both power and fuel economy. The mill produces 250 horsepower along with 247 lb-ft of torque and shifts through a five-speed automatic transmission.

Four-wheel-drive is fitted as standard, though it should be noted it's intended more as a traction aid during inclement weather than as an off-roading tool. The EPA rates the Ridgeline's fuel economy at just 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

The Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds or haul 1,100 pounds of cargo in its bed. Those figures are comparable to other V6-powered pickups, although tow package-equipped models - not to mention V8 rigs - can haul significantly more.

Trim Level Breakdown
Four trim levels are offered on the Ridgeline: base RT, Sport, RTS and top-of-the-line RTL.

Standard features on the Ridgeline RT include an integrated trailer hitch, pre-wiring for 7-pin trailer wiring, trip computer with instaneous and average fuel economy; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; power windows and door locks; power sliding rear window; cruise control; keyless entry; automatic heated wiper zone; a six-speaker, 100-watt audio system with CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability; and 60/40 split lift-up rear seat with underseat storage.

The stygian-themed Sport brings black 18-inch aluminum wheels, a black honeycomb grille, black headlights and taillights, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and an AUX input jack.

The Ridgeline RTS adds to the RT's features with alloy wheels; a 7-pin trailer wiring connector; body-color painted door handles; painted inner grille surfaces; a seven-speaker 160-watt audio system with subwoofer and six-disc in-dash audio system; steering wheel-mounted controls; an auxiliary audio input jack; dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support; privacy glass; and all-weather floor mats.

The RTL adds a leather-trimmed interior with heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels; fog lights, moonroof, a 110-volt power outlet, XM Satellite Radio, HomeLink remote system, carpeted floor mats, and a compass in the rearview mirror. A Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition is available (and replaces the rear-view mirror interior compass). Vehicles equipped with the navigation system also include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and a multi-information display.

Special Edition
A new additon to the Ridgeline lineup, the Special Edition model boasts unique, black-trimmed 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels along with the black exterior trim from the Ridgeline Sport. Inside, it comes standard with all of the RTL's features as well as a navigation system.

Occupant Safety
Every Ridgeline model comes equipped with dual front, side and side curtain airbags along with traction and stability control systems, electronic brakeforce distribution and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors
As a car-based pickup, the Ridgeline has no direct competitors. V6-powered variants of full-size, body-on-frame trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tundra can be had for the same price as the Ridgeline, however.